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First Look

OUT OF THE DARKNESS The first image ever created of a black hole was revealed on April 10. NATIONAL SCIENCE FOUNDATION/GETTY IMAGES

The world got a glimpse of one of the greatest mysteries of our universe on April 10. That’s when the first image of a black hole was shown to the public. The picture was created by a network of eight radio telescopes on four continents. The network is known as the Event Horizon Telescope.

“We have seen what we thought was unseeable,” says Shep Doeleman. He led the effort to create the image.

The black hole is at the center of the Messier 87 galaxy, some 55 million light-years from Earth, and is 6.5 billion times the mass of the sun.

The image shows the gas, dust, and stars that swirl around the black hole before disappearing into it. This is the “event horizon.” The image does not truly show the black hole, because not even light can escape its gravity. Black holes, like vacuums, suck in everything that gets too close.